Mon, 27 Jan 2020

The South African National Editor's Forum (Sanef) says that besides many failed attempts it remains determined to engage the EFF.

"Despite being told by Julius Malema on social media to 'go to hell' at the weekend while our council meeting was taking place, the Sanef Council still confirmed and reiterated the importance of trying to continue to engage with the EFF despite many failed attempts.

"We believe it is critical to keep communication channels open and we will formally request a meeting," Sanef said in a statement on Sunday.

This comes after the editor's forum discussed several issues, including the EFF's "banning" of amaBhungane and Daily Maverick's investigations unit Scorpio from attending the party's events, including press conferences during its September council sitting in Pretoria on Saturday.

'We have the right to decide who we associate with' - EFF defends its ban on certain journalists

"We will never be able to stop anyone from writing anything they want about EFF, but we have the right to decide who we associate with in our own events and platforms," spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said in a statement at the time.

"This right is not an infringement at all, of the right belonging to journalists to express themselves freely. They can express themselves freely, but not at the expense of our right to choose who we associate with.

"Journalism is meant to be grounded on an ethical and independent ethos. Once journalists are directly furthering political objectives, they cease to be journalists," he said.

The party said it refused to associate with people who were "politicised, masquerading as innocent journalists".

"They are all in a personal pursuit of the EFF, seeking its destruction and ultimate end. We choose to associate only with independent, ethical and upstanding journalists."

In August, Sanef and five senior journalists approached the Equality Court, sitting in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, to interdict the EFF from intimidating, harassing and assaulting journalists.

The five journalists are News24 editor Adriaan Basson, Daily Maverick journalist Pauli van Wyk, Tiso Blackstar associate editor Ranjeni Munusamy, Eyewitness News senior journalist Barry Bateman and Vrye Weekblad co-editor Max du Preez.

Sanef had lodged a complaint with the court late last year following a barrage of abusive and dangerous threats directed at journalists. Sanef at the time said it was approaching the court in defence of media freedom and to seek journalists' protection.

In November last year, Sanef had butted heads with EFF leader Julius Malema, raising its concerns about the party leader's attacks on journalists.

The forum at the time called on politicians and business leaders to refrain from calling out specific journalists if they take issue with their reporting and instead engage with their editors.

This followed statements made by Malema outside the state capture commission of inquiry, where he identified specific journalists who he accused of protecting Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.

Gordhan was testifying about his knowledge of state capture at the commission.

Malema told a crowd of EFF supporters gathered outside the venue that Gordhan was a "dog of white monopoly capital" and accused the media of ignoring allegations made by himself that Gordhan's daughter is in business with the state.

News24 investigated Malema's claims at the time and published an article with its findings.

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